1. AgentBen
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    AgentBen Member

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    A good city name?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by AgentBen, Jul 8, 2015.

    I am currently working on creating a book, but the one thing that stumps me all the time is names. I have two characters so far (don't worry, I haven't started the book) and it took me a long time just to give them a name. Which I don't know is normal or not.

    The name I need now is a one for a fictional city. Ones suggested by Yahoo Answer(er's) and generators are not good sounding or realistic. (In terms of people suggesting 'City of ___'.)

    Names of cities that I like are Gotham (as much as I don't enjoy batman), Starling and Central.

    I have been told that city names can derive from the founder of the city, what the city is known for etc. Should I focus on actually planning out the city in my head first? I doubt I would take the option of city founder, as it would be a useless backstory that wouldn't end up in the book.
     
  2. sidtvicious
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    sidtvicious Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd also take a look at the region, where you're story is taking place. City names are going to vary quite a bit based on the region. Take your example Gotham, a nickname given to NY by Washington Irving--if you ant to break it down even further I believe it's Old English for homestead. Either way, NY was a prominent English colony hence an English origin is acceptable. But if say you're city is in the West Indies a French name would be appropriate.

    The same can be associated with founders. In the US certain ethnic/racial groups settled in specific places, also consider that many names were of Native American language origins or reused European city names (think Paris, Tx etc.)

    So, a good question is...Where is this fictional city located?
     
  3. AgentBen
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    AgentBen Member

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    I'll keep that in mind then.

    There are going to be multiple fictional cities, as my book is just one of many superhero books like DC/Marvel. These cities will exist in the same universe, if any of this makes a difference.

    But to answer your question: England. I think that is the best choice considering I live there.
     
  4. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Oh hey, I was just figuring out how to name a city last night. Weird.

    What I did was look up a bunch of city names in the state I wanted to put my fictional city in - Georgia. Literally just used a list provided by good ol' wikipedia. Glancing over the list, I saw a few names I liked. In this case it was Zebulon and Hephizibah. Obviously I liked them because they sound a bit odd, and my city is a bit odd, so it fit. I looked into what the names mean and found out the Hephzibah is a Biblical figure, and finally decided to name my city after another Biblical figure with a Z in their name: Azariah.

    So ... something similar to that might work out for you? It was fun for me, at least :p
     
  5. AgentBen
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    AgentBen Member

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    I may try a similar method to that, although England doesn't have the most cool sounding names. London is probably the only nice sounding county/city/town we have here.
     
  6. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    In which time period are you planning these cities? That could have a major effect on your choices.

    As you know, so many names over here are of Roman and Anglo Saxon origin. Either look at permutations, or go slightly futuristic.

    And speaking of Gotham, it's next door to Nottingham, and pronounced Goatem!
     
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  7. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    England has all sorts of weird and wonderful place names. Grimsby, Braintree, Leighton Buzzard, Bognor Regis, Chipping Norton, Weston-Super-Mare, Gravesend, Ashby-de-la-Zouche.
    I could go on a while.

    Don't knock our place names.

    Admittedly not many of them sound like Gotham City equivalents. Hard to take seriously the evil crime syndicate that holds Chipping Norton in its grip.
     
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  8. AgentBen
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    AgentBen Member

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    Thank you for your help! I'll try and brainstorm some ideas.

    Time period is 2015. (Maybe less, like 2013)
     
  9. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    Mightown
    Dynametropolis
    Omnifield

    Or any other interesting pairing of words and settlement relate suffixes.
     
  10. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    Been doing this a lot recently since I've been trying to bolt together a rough map of a fictional country.

    So, one thing to start with is, where is this city? A city in the US (or other former colony) is much more likely to have cities that are named after people; founders, financiers, monarchs and political leaders, etc. (Not always the case - my home town of Nelson is, in a round-about way, named after the naval hero). My map is one that is inspired by Victorian Britain, so it is deliberately aiming for a traditional, British feel.

    Cities in the "Old World", or countries that don't have as much of a recent history of being colonised will likely have their own set of prefixes and suffixes, which may vary by region. In the UK, for example, many Welsh towns have "blaen", "cwm", "wyn", etc. somewhere in their names which you likely won't find in other parts of the country since they derive from the Welsh and earlier celtic/brythonic languages. Scottish placenames have a lot of "auch", "bal", "dun", etc. from Scots Gaelic, and ones in the north of England and east of Scotland tend to have old Norse influences of "thorpe", "keld", "kirk", etc. More widespread are based on old Roman settlements ("-chester", "-wich") and Old English ("worth", "-ham", "-bury", etc.)

    Of course, many cities in former British colonies are named after the original British cities anyway - New York is an obvious example, but a brief look around New England gets you Boston, Manchester, Cambridge, Plymouth, etc.

    Here's a list of english-language elements that might be useful, along with some examples (other languages, naturally, have their own).
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2015
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  11. AgentBen
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    AgentBen Member

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    Bookmarked, I'll use that for future reference. Put the idea for my superhero story on hold as I don't think it would sound as good if it wasn't comic-book like. Thanks for the help though everyone, I got one city name thanks to you guys! :)
     
  12. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Yeah I'd go with England, Spain or France, the USA has lots of places named after European places Eg New York (York), Birmingham (Birmingham), New Orleans ( Orleans) etc etc.

    Or adopt a local term like "the big apple" and call your city "the tiny coconut" ;)
     
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  13. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Up near the US/Canada border there's a River Thames where Windsor is DOWNstream of London!
     
  14. A J Phillips
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    A J Phillips Active Member

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    Your request was a tad vague. What century does your book take place in? Is it a bustling metropolis or a quiet town with a small population? Are they industrial or eco-friendly? You should consider these things since it seems that cities tend to have names that fit their niche. Just like Kobe Bryant just sounds like an NBA player, New York sounds like a massive hub city. Good luck.
     
  15. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    I think New York could equally sound like a twee little village in England. It is just because you are aware of New York you think it sounds big. You could easily have a place called tiny coconut, and that place be a super city that covers the entire surface of the planet, as long as you had an even bigger planet city called big coconut. It is all a matter of perspective.
     
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  16. SwampDog
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    But don't call it Wetwang.
     
  17. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    Quite so - Manchester, UK is a major city with a metropolitan area including some 2.5 million residents.

    Meanwhile, Manchester, New Hampshire has a population of around 110,000.

    More meanwhile still, Manchester, California has a population just shy of 200.
     
  18. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    I feel you may enjoy this.
     
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  19. Scrib
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    Scrib Active Member

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    You could always pick up a copy of A-Z of London and browse the street names until you find a few that might fit your city.
     
  20. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    You should call the city Uranus.
     
  21. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Take your real life name, spell it backwards, and bam city name.
     
  22. AspiringNovelist
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    AspiringNovelist Contributing Member

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    Just name your city with "ia" with the name. You didn't give a great amount of detail about your world, but "ia" always fits because, 'ia" means - Used in forming names of countries, diseases, flowers, and rarely collections of things. So, in effect, 'ia' is very broad can mean anything, for example:

    I hope your writing a utopian novel, too many dystopian novels out there now...

    Utopian

    Stopian - about self.
    Wtopioan - about the 'we'.
    Opian - people who think they have the good life, but are drugged.

    Dystopian
    Xtopian - complete disregard.
    Underbelly - the opposite of Utopian, so anything to do with "under" would work.
    Stopian - about self. (Included it twice on purpose.)
     
  23. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not following what you mean by this. There will be countless things in your book that would have undetermined backstory. I don't see why the city name can't be one of them.
     

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